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October 20, 1989 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-20

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Friday, October 20, 1989

Page 7

Pretty

darn

quirky

Peter Schickele

is P.D.Q. Bach

BY SHERRILL L. BENNETT
always had that vein of ham," says Peter Schickele.
"It's part of my genetic make-up." But when Mr.
Schickele first performed his farcical music and stage
show at New York's Town Hall in '65, he never
dreamed he would return annually for the next 25 years
as Professor Peter Schickele, a member of the musical
pathology department in Southern North Dakota Uni-
versity at Hoople. The Professor, and musicians of the
Semi-Pro Musica Antiqua, are devoted to the discovery
and performance of the music of P.D.Q. Bach, "the last
and the least" apocryphal son of Johann Sebastian.
* Through extensive tours including Ann Arbor's Michi-
gan Theater, tonight with guest artist Randall Jeffries,
an Ann Arbor native, Professor Schickele and his troupe
have succeeded in delightfully annoying audiences and
justifying the historical neglect of P.D.Q.'s music.
The real Schickele has an innate passion for music
and comical theatrics, first prompted by comedy band
leader Spike Jones and his take-offs on pop tunes of the
'40s and '50s. "At the age of 10, 11, 12, I was a Spike
Jones freak," Schickele admits. "He had a very nice
vaudevilley stage show that attracted me. My brother
and I used to entertain at Rotary Club luncheons lip-
syncing Spike Jones records." Although Schickele's
first inclination was to the theatrical element, his in-
volvement has always run deeper than that of a techni-
cian of histrionic shenanigans. "Most satirists make fun
of what they like, not what they don't like," says
Schickele. "It's no accident that P.D.Q. Bach is a com-
poser of the 18th century because Bach and Mozart are
my favorites." .
His profound interest in music surfaced in his late
teens, and was first nurtured at Swarthmore college and
then later at the Juilliard School of Music, where he re-
ceived a Masters Degree in Composition. Since then, he

has written more than 100 legitimate, no-nonsense
pieces, and like Haydn, Schickele's whimsical nature
perfumes each one. Recent premieres include Far Away
From Here for Blue Grass Band and Symphony Orches-
tra, and Ceremony, a large cantata for baritone, chorus
and jazz ensemble.
Even before P.D.Q., Schickele revealed his satirical
genius by making music out of non-musical objects. "If
somebody discovered, as somebody actually did at
Swarthmore college, that you could play notes on the
nozzles of the fire hoses in the halls, then I would write
a piece for fire hose nozzle," Schickele recalls. As
P.D.Q. Bach, he has displayed his mastery by inventing
all sorts of zany instruments that actually work. "P.D.Q
Bach wrote for Bicycle, Bagpipe, Dill Piccolo, and Left-
Handed Sewer Flute... for the Ann Arbor concert, I will
play the Pastaphone which consists of two pieces of
uncooked manicotti."
The actual format of the show hasn't changed since
the very first half-concert at the Juillard School in '59
- Schickele gives a mock lecture introducing a piece
and'then it's performed. P.D.Q. Bach's music, however,
has changed and so has his personality, collecting bio-
graphical information over the years "like barnacles on a
ship," Schickele explains. It was because of this evolu-
tion that Schickele waited ten years after the Random
House commission to write his book, The Definitive
Biography of P.D.Q. Bach. "P.D.Q. Bach is a more
fleshed-out person than he was in 1965," Schickele ad-
mits.
The Intimate P.D.Q. Bach, a show begun in 1972,
changes music every few years as more of P.D.Q.'s
music is discovered by Professor Schickele. Tonight's
program includes one of the newly discovered works,
The Little Notebook for Piggy Bach, and a relatively
new- fQund chamber opera The Magic Bassoon, "a one-
act tragicommodity." See BACH, page 8

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Christopher Hollyday
Christopher Hollyday
novus
Christopher Hollyday's new al-
Wbum is his fourth overall and his
first for a major label. The Boston
altoist has been highly touted since
he burst onto the eastern jazz scene
at the age of 14. Four years later, he
gives us this offering, playing with
a maturity beyond his years. The list
of jazz prodigies has included such
names as Miles Davis, Tony
Williams, and Wynton Marsalis;
now Christopher Hollyday can claim
his place on that list.
This young man has chosen four
very able accompanists for this
recording date. Wallace Roney is his
hornmate on trumpet, and the
rhythm section is the trio of Cedar
Walton on piano, David Williams
on bass, and Billy Higgins on
dLrums. Each performs well on his
pwn, but from the outset, it's Hol-
lyday who takes charge.
Hollyday affirms his control with
a strong solo on the opening track,
"Omega," followed by a textbook
bebop performance of Charlie
Parker's "Bloomdido." Bird's influ-
Brin hisb ad
.11for 1 FREE
:2 oz drnk 1'4LA +' 6 2 STH AkT.y
expires 10/28/89 .

ence is clearly heard here; fortu-
nately, Hollyday's own style shows
through as well. "Bebop" affords
him another free-blowing opportu-
nity, but the most impressive num-
ber is his whirlwind tour of "Ko-
Ko," a dazzling display of melodi-
cism and technical prowess. No
question about it - Hollyday is a
master of the bebop idiom.
On the slower numbers, an area
in which most young players are de-
ficient, Hollyday performs compe-
tently if unspectacularly. He negoti-
ates "This is Always" without a
hitch, and injects "Embraceable
You" with some bright ideas.
If there's one weak cut on this
record, it's the second one,
"Appointment in Ghana." Granted,
this Jackie McClean-penned tune is a
difficult one, but Hollyday is tenta-
tive on it, his ideas disjointed. An-
other small fault on the album is
Hollyday's sound. It's bright but
dry, with almost no vibrato, even on
the ballads. He also tends to slip out
of tune at times. These faults, how-
ever, are small in light of Hollyday's
otherwise fine performance.
Fans of straight-ahead jazz would

do well to get this recording. Twenty
years from now, when Hollyday has
made dozens of acclaimed albums,
this eponymous one should be a col-
lector's item. Even if that doesn't
pan out, the record is still worth
having.
--Ben Aquino
Ice-T/The Iceberg
Freedom of Speech... Just
Watch What You Say
Sire
When I asked for this tape, the
saleslady quickly produced it from

behind the counter, and brandished it
before me with two fingers, almost
like a turd. Perhaps she expected me
to cringe at the cover.
"How does it feel to buy a tape
that's rated X?"
"It's cool."
"It's really vulgar. The first song
is about making love to a woman
with a flashlight."
Perhaps it's the cover of this
record, a picture of a Black youth
with gun barrels inserted into his
ears and mouth, that disturbed her. I
See RECORDS, page 8

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